By Leopold Munhende
WAR Veterans came out guns blazing against President Emmerson Mnangagwa, dismissing his “sanctions” mantra, giving examples of how his children were getting fatter by the day while theirs starved.
They also expressly said they were not afraid to die for their cause.
Having had their demonstration dramatically halted by anti-riot officers who sealed off Africa Unity Square which had been publicised as the meeting point, War Veterans told journalists they regretted having gone to war.
They had attempted to congregate and march to Mnangagwa’s Munhumutapa office where they wanted to hand over a petition detailing their grievances.
They were bundled into police trucks and taken to Harare Central where Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) stepped in to assist.
“We thought it was a noble cause, such that everyone would come back home and there would be plenty but we are suffering we are hungry,” said Zila Mutasa, a former freedom fighter from Mabvuku.
“We have nothing to leave behind for our children but look at theirs with stomachs so big. We have had enough of this hunger, if they want to arrest or kill us let them come, we have had enough of this hunger,” he said.
The $16 000 monthly pension war veterans get is equal to US$80 at the common but illegal black-market rate which now stands at US$1: $200 and is only US$8 better if the US$1: $180 is used.
It is US$164 at the official rate of US$1: $97 but getting the much favoured US dollars at that rate is impossible as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s (RBZ) US$50 facility has also been infested by crooks at various Bureau De Changes.
Mnangagwa’s children Collins and Emmerson Jnr are some of the many offspring of the high and mighty whose wealth has astonishingly continued to grow.
Some of them do not hesitate to flash it out for the poor to marvel at.
Their situation, poor, starving and jobless has been blamed on sanctions by Mnangagwa since a year ago and Zanu PF over the past two decades.
“They must not talk about sanctions, Smith had sanctions but he was organised, people managed to survive, they must not lie about sanctions,” another war veteran said.
Mnangagwa was in Rutenga leading an “anti-sanctions” rally Monday and last year designated 25 October Anti-Sanctions Day.
As they were driven off one of them chided a police officer who had ordered her into their vehicle: “How much are you being given? Why are you abusing us? What are you being given? You do not have any work to do, the only thing you do is stay in your camps.”
A similar protest and similar treatment of war veterans was a tell-tale sign of factional fights within the ruling Zanu PF that eventually resulted in late President Robert Mugabe being showed the way out by armed battalions of soldiers.